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Thursday, February 10, 2011

 6:32 PM 

Administrative rules rewrite passes Senate

The Senate passed the overhaul of the administrative rule-making process proposed by Gov. Scott Walker as part of his special session package.

The bill passed on a party-line 18-14 vote. The bill will have to go back to the Assembly for a vote on concurrence because the Senate adopted a technical amendment.

Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Wauwatosa, said the bill will foster job creation in the long term by allowing people to more easily contest "overly burdensome" rules. She said the bill will actually strengthen legislative oversight by directing all rules to JCRAR, and will cut down on marathon hearings like Wednesday's 10-hour public hearing on a wind turbine siting.

"Hopefully we'll be catching bad rules before we get to a hearing," she said.

Sen. Mary Lazich, R-New Berlin, said the bill is "one of the best we've done this session." She said the bill puts another set of eyes on the rules process and increases transparency.

"The public is going to be much more participatory," she said.

Dems tried and failed to pass amendments to the bill to exempt the Government Accountability Board, the Department of Justice and the Department of Public Instruction from the sweeping changes of the bill. They railed against Republicans for ceding legislative authority to the governor's office.

Dems also proposed an amendment to require the governor's office to maintain a record of all people they meet with to discuss the scope of a rule. Another amendment would have sunset the bill in 2015. All were rebuffed by Republicans.

"So far I haven't seen anything that remotely resembles independence from a governor who is grabbing too much," Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Waunakee, said.

"Once you give up power to the governor it's extraordinarily difficult to give it back," Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller, D-Monona, said.

Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, gave a lengthy, impassioned speech toward the end of the debate, prompting Senate President Mike Ellis, R-Neenah, to pound his gavel.

"Shut her off, she's out of order," Ellis said to the staffer who controls the microphones.

"No Mr. President, this majority is out of order," Taylor shouted.


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